COVID-19 All You Need to Know In 500 Words

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a global health emergency in Wuhan, China, the new coronavirus outbreak.

At least 3,000 people have died from the disease, and there have been more than 93,000 confirmed cases worldwide.

Deaths have been confirmed in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, France, Iran, Taiwan, and South Korea.

Here is what you need to know:

What is a coronavirus?

According to the WHO, the coronaviruses family cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

They circulate in animals, and some can be transmitted between animals and humans. Several coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.

The new coronavirus, the seventh known to affect humans, has been named COVID-19.

What are the symptoms?

Common signs of infection include fever, coughing, and breathing difficulties. It can cause pneumonia, multiple organ failure, and death in severe cases.

The incubation period of COVID-19 is thought to be between one and 14 days. It is contagious before symptoms appear.

Infected patients can also be asymptomatic, meaning they do not display any symptoms despite having the virus in their systems.

How many people are affected?

According to official figures, at least 2,236 people died, and 75,400 have been infected.

Deaths have also been confirmed in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, France, Taiwan, Iran, and South Korea.

Cases have been confirmed in Australia, Belgium, Cambodia, Canada, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Iran, Israel, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Nepal, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, the UAE, the UK, the US, and Vietnam.

Where did it come from?

China alerted the WHO to cases of unusual pneumonia in Wuhan on December 31.

COVID-19 is thought to have originated in a seafood market where wild animals are sold illegally.

On February 7, Chinese researchers said the virus could have spread from an infected animal to humans through illegally trafficked pangolins, prized in Asia for food and medicine.

Scientists have pointed to either bats or snakes as the possible source.

What is happening in China now?

Efforts to contain the outbreak have led to 20 cities facing travel restrictions affecting at least 60 million people.

More than a dozen countries have evacuated their citizens from Wuhan, while others have banned entry to Chinese citizens. Several airlines have suspended flights to and from China.

On February 10, a team of WHO experts arrived in China to investigate the outbreak.

Should I worry? How can I protect myself?

The WHO declared the virus a global health emergency on January 30, deeming it an "extraordinary event" that constitutes a risk to other countries and requires a coordinated international response.

People are being urged to follow local safety measures.

WHO recommends basic hygiene such as washing hands with soap and water and covering your mouth with your elbow when sneezing or coughing.

Maintain "social distancing" - keeping at least one meter (three feet) between yourself and others - particularly if they are coughing and sneezing, and avoid touching your face, eyes, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid unnecessary, unprotected contact with animals and thoroughly wash hands after contact.

Ensure meat consumed is cooked thoroughly.